The plot is about a shadowy group called the Crusaders, which has been organizing itself into a power center. Its poster shows a handsome Aryan lad against the waving American flag. Their slogan, "Join The Crusaders -- Fight for America!". The implication is clear...the Crusaders will be against anyone who doesn't look, sound or believe the way that Aryan poster boy does. When a columnist is killed while looking into the Crusaders, Howard Malloy finds himself appointed a special prosecutor. He also finds himself in a noxious mess that combines crime, nativism and the reactionary beliefs of some of the privileged few.
You can play the amusing Hollywood game of Spot the Star Cameo. In unbilled bits that last a second or two are such luminaries as Burgess Meredith, John Garfield, Marsha Hunt, Everett Sloane, Henry Fonda and Marlene Dietrich.
December 30, 2009 Subject:
Charlie, newspaperman [Myron McCormick]: Fear, Howard, fear! It’s a terrible weapon. You saw what it did to Mrs. Borg this afternoon.
Howard, Asst. DA: I could see she was worrying.
Charlie, newspaperman: She’s afraid if she doesn’t hold on to that suicide story, they’ll get rid of her, too. Jack [bartender cameo: Burgess Meredith], set ‘em up again.
Howard, Asst. DA: Sounds like ...the mobs are back again.
Charlie, newspaperman: When the law closes in on one racket, the big boys always find another. With the mobsters it was liquor and blood. With this outfit, it’s HATE and blood.
Howard, Asst. DA: But they’re just harmless lunatics, these hate groups.
Charlie, newspaperman: Lunatics, yes, especially the warped minds on top, with the dreams of power, gold or political success… but not harmless when the racket boys move in. It’s Merry Christmas for a few smart operators when the find a soft touch like this.
Howard, Asst. DA: Charlie, what got you into this?
Charlie, newspaperman: I’m fed to the teeth seeing people pushed around. You know, I was born in this city, Howard. In our block we had guys from practically every race and religion you ever heard of, *and* a couple you didn’t, but we got along pretty well.
Howard, Asst. DA: Well, that’s the way it ought to be.
Charlie, newspaperman: In our block nobody cared what country your parents came from or where they went to church. Nobody called you nasty names, until you were taught there were nasty names and some people were supposed to be called by them: micks, pollack’s, wops, limeys, spics, honkies…
Howard, Asst. DA: That’s part of our history. America always has to melt away the differences between people.
Charlie, newspaperman: Sure, and most always you don’t understand *why* they’re supposed to be different. It’s just somebody else’s say so -- somebody else’s influence. Now, we’ve got people around who want to make people hate each other, be afraid of each other… just so they can make money out of it. I don’t like that.
Howard, Asst. DA: Look, Charlie, hold off these columns of yours for a week or so, will you? Give me time to run this down.
For one, I had never found Franchot Tone memorable as a lead actor, but "Voila!" This finally did it for me – and after only 60 years.
Howard, Asst. DA: Sure. He’s going to be my brother-in-law any week now!
An American psyche runs through the center of this tale, certainly inspired by popular culture. Its plot regards the ongoing democratic experiment and its aparently perpetual fragility. I found more here than meets the eye.
August 12, 2009 Subject:
Well, I stayed with it until the bitter end but I found myself rather bored and clock watching before it was half way through.
Nothing much to recommend it. Franchot Tone is no-ones idea of a film noir leading man.
March 29, 2008 Subject:
Description Sounds Better than It Looks
I found the view of this movie tedius and almost superficial when it came to content. I kept expecting the big plan to evolve from the way the plot was described in the preview, but that never happened. The movie ended in a whimper, and despite the semi-decent acting by the hero, the end result was a letdown.